Letter to the Editor: Oppose Judge Gorsuch Nomination

The U.S. Senate has begun hearings on the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. These appointments are for a lifetime and the Court’s decisions can affect every person in this country for generations into the future. Last year, Republicans in the Senate, including Senator Ron Johnson, refused to carry out their constitutional duty to consider the nomination of Judge Garland, an eminently qualified and moderate judge. Instead, President Trump has nominated Judge Gorsuch to this unconstitutionally “stolen seat,” saying that he is a conservative judge who interprets the Constitution and statutes narrowly and approaches each case impartially.

Here is a case in which Judge Gorsuch reviewed a statute so narrowly that it went beyond the bounds of fairness and common sense. A truck driver was stranded with a disabled trailer in sub-zero temperatures. He called his employer to request help and waited for three hours. He was experiencing the symptoms of hypothermia and called again. He was told to stay with the trailer but no help arrived, so rather than continue to risk his life, he unhitched the trailer and drove to the nearest gas station. His employer then fired him for insubordination, thus putting the protection of their property before the potential loss of his life. In Judge Gorsuch’s opinion, there was no specifically worded safety regulation that protected the driver in this particular circumstance, so tough luck. (Fortunately for the driver, Gorsuch was in the sole minority in this decision, and the other judges ruled in the driver’s favor.)

In contract to that callous position, Judge Gorsuch did not apply an impartial and narrow interpretation of the law in the well-publicized Hobby Lobby case. Here, he greatly expanded a narrowly drafted “religious freedom” law to allow the owners of a corporation to exclude certain contraceptives from their employee’s health coverage. In these and other opinions, Judge Gorsuch seems to favor those with more economic power than the ordinary person.

For these reasons, and as a former attorney, I support Senator Tammy Baldwin in opposing his nomination to the Supreme Court.

Karin Gatenby

Sister Bay, Wis.